A depleted Arsenal squad has a mountain to climb as the Gunners face Liverpool in the first leg of the EFL Cup semifinal at Anfield.
Cedric was injured and Granit Xhaka saw red in the opening half-hour, leaving an already thin Arsenal squad with a patchwork 10-man formation to navigate over a half in a hostile environment.
The Gunners have, however, managed to reach halftime unscathed, as Liverpool couldn’t manage a single shot on target despite the possessional and tactical advantage. The Reds looked devoid of ideas as Arsenal sat back and absorbed pressure, and the Reds will look to turn things around in the second half.
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A spot at Wembley is on the line over the course of 180 minutes, as both sides look to take an advantage back with them to London for next week’s finale. Chelsea is already confirmed as the first finalist, so the victor from this two-legged matchup will move on to face the Blues.
**Sporting News will be following the event live and providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal live score
(All times Eastern)
75th minute: Klopp throwing a hail mary, bringing on Neco Williams, Joe Gomez, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a triple substitution. Fabinho off, with Matip to follow and Alexander-Arnold as well. Quite straightforward, like-for-like substitutions.
73rd minute: Gabriel is cautioned for hauling down Jota. The free-kick is out by Holding for a Liverpool corner, and then resulting set-piece results in an Arsenal break run by Martinelli that fizzles out.
72nd minute: Chance for Arsenal! Cross from the left is right at the feet of Saka on the doorstep, and what would have been a very difficult finish is smothered by Alisson before the Arsenal attacker can get a shot off. Very nearly happened for the Gunners.
70th minute: If you’re a Liverpool fan hoping and praying that things improve in the final 20 minutes…keep hoping. Arsenal has now gone 50 minutes with 10 men, and Liverpool doesn’t have a single shot on target.
Really heavy touch from Henderson to tee up Minamino on the edge of the box. Poor.
— Paul Gorst (@ptgorst) January 13, 2022
64th minute: Alisson just took a throw-in, so that’s something fun. At least we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.
63rd minute: Liverpool recycles possession, tries something, there’s an opening, it doesn’t come off. Arsenal counters, wins a foul, not enough men forward, Liverpool regains possession. Rinse, repeat.
Joel Matip has a go at referee Michael Oliver for being dispossessed by Saka in a two-footed challenge that wasn’t whistled.
I just bumped into Granit Xhaka in the stands. I said That was a very silly challenge Granit. What were you thinking? He said I wasn’t James. I said Yeah, I didn’t think you were.
— Boring James Milner (@BoringMilner) January 13, 2022
56th minute: Arsenal has completely taken the sting out of this game. Liverpool has no answers. Bukayo Saka, with precious few opportunities on the ball, has been the best player on the pitch since the Xhaka red card. Andy Robertson is carded for pulling back Saka.
Klopp appears to be readying Curtis Jones. It’ll be Milner to come off.
Saka so good to watch in this Liverpool-Arsenal tie. Such a clever player
— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) January 13, 2022
Saka not only playing so well here but showing a maturity well ahead of his years.
Captain’s kind of performance, this.
— Mark Mann-Bryans (@MarkyMBryans) January 13, 2022
47th minute: Oh wow, doubtful he meant to do that, but a Takumi Minamino sent in a cross for Diogo Jota and it nearly dipped into the far corner. Ramsdale didn’t get a touch on it, which would have meant trouble had it been on target, which it nearly was. Arsenal was nearly caught out getting a bit happy down the other end, can’t get too excited while reduced to 10 men.
46th minute: Back under way for the second half. No substitutions at the halftime break for either side, surprisingly. We’ll see what Liverpool comes up with to break down the 10-man Gunners.
The opening seconds see Liverpool hilariously put the ball out near the midfield line while trying to build from the back under no pressure. Arsenal will take that.
Halftime: Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal
The big moment of the first half was the Granit Xhaka red card, but Liverpool was poor against 10 men, and Arsenal had the better last five minutes before the break. This has been a pathetic display against 10 men, with no shots on target, and Jurgen Klopp will need to make changes at halftime.
After an opening half-hour that was as calamitous as can be, Arsenal looked structured and unbreakable after going down a man, under siege for long periods of time but never uncomfortable. But there’s a long way to go before this one’s shored up.
5 – Since his debut season with Arsenal in 2016-17, no Premier League player has been sent off more times in all competitions than Granit Xhaka (5). Orders. pic.twitter.com/MLVP5gaGVH
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 13, 2022
Granit Xhaka is just Jonjo Shelvey with a better branding team
— James Tyler (@JamesTylerESPN) January 13, 2022
41st minute: Arsenal has a nip down the other end, as Bukayo Saka does well to retain possession on the flank and drive forward. His delivery forces Matip to loop it out for a corner dangerously.
Matip nearly Toblerones one into his own net. Corner for Arsenal…
— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) January 13, 2022
36th minute: Microcosm of this match – Chambers fouls Minamino on the touchline giving Liverpool a dangerous free-kick, which Henderson tries to get cheeky with and takes it quick, looping it straight to an Arsenal defender who has no red shirt within five yards.
34th minute: For all the trouble Arsenal’s put itself through, no shots on target for either side so far. Liverpool sure is biding its time pouncing on the wounded animal. The absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane rearing its head.
31st minute: Half-hour gone, and the Gunners are left with a razor thin margin for error. More low-hanging fruit on social media…
Plenty of false positives for Arsenal already and we haven’t even played 30 minutes.
— Karl O’Shaughnessy (@OShaughnessyK) January 13, 2022
28th minute: Arteta makes a change in response to the red card, it’s Rob Holding on and Eddie Nketiah off. Harsh on the striker but that’s how this goes. Arteta knows it’s still 0-0, and if he can lead Arsenal through this first leg with minimal damage, the semifinal won’t be completely lost.
24th minute: RED! Granit Xhaka sent off! Oh my, what a BONKERS tackle. Milner picks out Diogo Jota on the break who got by Xhaka, and the Swiss international just throws his boot straight into Jota’s chest, sent off for a last-man foul. The foul itself wasn’t terribly pretty either. It’s completely nonsensical from the Arsenal midfielder.
It’s the second time Xhaka has been sent off this season…last time it happened, Arsenal crumpled to a 5-0 defeat vs. Man City. He’s out of the North London Derby as well as the second leg of this meeting. Costly decision to say the least.
Granit Xhaka off. Who’d have predicted that? Actually played well at times this season but he has these ill-judged rash moments too often. So frustrating for #afc and Arteta. 29, experienced but sadly can’t be relied on. #LIVARS
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) January 13, 2022
20th minute: Milner down after taking an errant arm from Bukayo Saka in an aerial duel, a few minutes after Jordan Henderson took an elbow as well.
It would be wonderful if Arsenal players stopped trying to put Liverpool players in the hospital.
— Mark Kastner (@mkstnr) January 13, 2022
18th minute: Arsenal finally has a sniff in the Liverpool half, but Kieran Tierney’s cross is headed clear and the move ends. Gunners feeding on scraps here.
Lacazette has a go from distance after Henderson gives it straight to him. It was a shot from acres away and taken very quickly, didn’t come close.
13th minute: Will the Gunners get a grip? Goodness gracious, Ben White nearly puts the ball into his own net now, sliding to stop a cross and seeing the ball clip off his foot and skitter just wide of the far post. Calamitous stuff at the back right now for Arsenal, and somehow the Gunners haven’t been punished. Yet.
Meanwhile, Liverpool is controlling every bit of attacking possession, and the Reds have come close on a few occasions. 75% possession so far.
12th minute: Oh my word, another glaring mistake from Arsenal at the back. This time it’s Ramsdale who took too long to boot a ball into midfield, and Jordan Henderson charged him down, the boot ultimately banging off Henderson’s chest. Another weird corner given away, as the Gunners avoid anything worse.
10th minute: Real trouble for Arsenal here. Cedric, in for Tomayasu who’s out injured, is down with an injury, and the look of frustration on his face is a clear sign that he can’t continue. Arsenal has to dig even deeper, with Calum Chambers coming off the bench.
Ian can’t help himself…
Cedric is down again. Looks like he’s a bit Soares. Probably going to have to come off.
— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) January 13, 2022
6th minute: Chance for Liverpool! First chance of the match comes off a lucky bounce to Henderson who sends it wide to Andy Robertson. The full-back whips in a cross that is inches away from an unmarked Roberto Firmino looking to get his head to it. Warning sign for the Arsenal back line.
5th minute: Goodness gracious…Gabriel with one of the worst back-passes you’ll ever see, but it’s harmlessly out for a corner rather than anything more poisonious. The corner comes to nothing for Liverpool. Yikes.
Gabriel belts the ball past Ramsdale from 40 yards but it’s wide. Corner for #LFC …
— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) January 13, 2022
3rd minute: Liverpool controlling early possession as the midfields begin what is sure to be a lively 90-minute battle. First corner of the game to the Reds, but it’s headed away emphatically by the Gunners.
1st minute: We are under way! Arsenal wearing its interesting third kit that features a blue & purple zig-zag with white numerals and lettering. A bit much. I’m a fan of the fancy numeric font, though.
2:10 p.m.: Arsenal might want to try shooting more this time around against Liverpool. Also limiting shots helps. This has been your expert analysis of the day.
Arsenal v Liverpool recent meetings – total shots
3 v 24
8 v 15
4 v 21
6 v 16
3 v 16
5 v 19 #LIVARS
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) January 13, 2022
1:45 p.m.: Fancy a (less than scientific) score predictor? We got 3-3, which would produce a fabulous 90 minutes for the neutrals.
1:35 p.m.: Lineup are in, and it’s even stronger than expected for Liverpool as Trent Alexander-Arnold returns unexpectely from his COVID-19 isolation. Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are both included in the lineup, suggesting a possible 4-4-2 from Jurgen Klopp, unless one of them is playing out wide.
Meanwhile, Arsenal will see one of Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, or Gabriel Martinelli deputize as #10 in the 4-2-3-1 with both Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe missing out. The Gunners’ bench makes for ugly reading, this is a really thin squad at the moment.
Subs tonight: Leno, Holding, Mari, Chambers, Tavares, Patino, Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Biereth.
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) January 13, 2022
1:29 p.m.: Another reason to take the over tonight: Jurgen Klopp loves facing Arsenal. Full betting tip below.
43 – Under Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool have scored more goals against Arsenal in all competitions (43) than they have versus any other opponent. Anticipation. pic.twitter.com/Vg36lnQkV3
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 13, 2022
1:23 p.m.: They’re handing out flags for home fans. The Kop should be rocking.
A semi-final under the lights at Anfield tonight. We’ll need help with flags, if people can come down to the Kop/Kemlyn corner under the scoreboard from 19:15.
We’ve also got smaller flags for kids or people who haven’t waved one before. As always, anyone on the Kop is welcome.
— Spion Kop 1906 (@SpionKop1906) January 13, 2022
1:08 p.m.: The calm before the storm.
12:45 p.m.: Before this matchup, have a look back at the bonkers meeting between Liverpool and Leicester City in the EFL Cup quarterfinals that saw the Reds reach this stage of the competition.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal lineups
Liverpool lineup notes
It was thought that Trent Alexander-Arnold was the only Liverpool player still in COVID-19 isolation, but he is included in the starting lineup after making a quick return from COVID-19 protocols, meaning the Reds are back to a virus-free squad. Goalkeeper Alisson is included in the group of returnees, having missed time earlier with a positive COVID-19 test.
Still, the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita are all on AFCON 2021 duty, and the injured group of Harvey Elliott, Divock Origi, Thiago, and Nat Phillips join them on the unavailable players list. So the Reds aren’t exactly healthy despite the COVID-19 cases fading away. That means young players like Curtis Jones and Kaide Gordon have made the bench, and they could potentially see the field depending on game flow.
Interestingly, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are included in the starting lineup, suggesting Liverpool could be lining up in more of a 4-4-2, unless one of the two is being deployed out wide.
Liverpool projected starting lineup (4-4-2): Alisson (GK) – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson – Fabinho, Henderson, Milner, Minamino – Jota, Firmino.
Liverpool subs (9): Kelleher (GK), Konate, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Tsimikas, Gordon, Morton, Williams.
Arsenal lineup notes
Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are both on AFCON 2022 duty, meaning the Arenal midfield is extremely thin. That could lead to time for Charlie Patino and Albert Lokonga in the middle of the pitch. The Gunners also appeared to be dealing with COVID-19 issues, but Granit Xhaka has proven himself fit, a major boost. Takehiro Tomiyasu is reportedly still out with a calf injury, meaning Cedric Soares steps in at right back again.
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Both Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe are out, with Smith Rowe unable to recover from the groin injury that kept him out of the FA Cup match last weekend, and Odegaard a recent addition to the list after testing positive for COVID-19. That leaves Arsenal without a No. 10, with one of Gabriel Martinelli or Alexandre Lacazette moving centrally to take the place.
Another question for Mikel Arteta is who to start up front as the striker. Eddie Nketiah has been a go-to option in Cup games of recent past, but he was poor in the FA Cup loss to Nottingham Forest. However, with the thin attacking options, Nkeitah starts regardless of recent performances.
Arsenal projected starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale (GK) – Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Lokonga, Xhaka – Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli – Nketiah.
Arsenal subs: Leno (GK), Holding, Mari, Chambers, Tavares, Patino, Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Biereth.
How to watch Liverpool vs. Arsenal
- Date: Thursday, Jan. 13
- Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
- Streaming: ESPN+ (subscribers only)
Thursday’s first-leg match between Liverpool and Arsenal from Anfield in the EFL Cup semifinals will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States.
Pre-match betting lines, picks & predictions
Pick: Liverpool win & over 1.5 goals (+130)
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal
- Moneyline: Liverpool +100 / Draw +275 / Arsenal +260
- Spread (Asian Handicap): Liverpool -0.5 (+100) / Arsenal +0.5 (-115)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -140 / Under +120
- Both teams to score: Yes -165 / No +125